Costs of Adopting a Baby

Published May 25, 2018
adopted baby with mother

While the costs of physically birthing a baby can cost up to $25,000, the expenses associated with adopting a baby could be twice that amount. If you've decided adoption is the right path for your family, there are a few things you'll want to know before starting the process.

Costs Specific to Domestic Adoption

The average cost of a U.S. domestic adoption is just under $40,000, and prospective parents can expect to be matched with an infant within one or two years.

Agency Adoption

Using a licensed adoption agency offers adoptive parents all the help they could wish for in the process. The agency handles everything from finding a child to the legal procedures and paperwork. Each agency operates at a different volume and its costs are proportionate to that work. An average adoption through American Adoptions, for example, totals $40,000 to $50,000. Some services included in these costs include:

  • An agency fee ($15,000 to $20,000) that covers a portion of staff salaries, office expenses, and marketing
  • Adoption Disruption Insurance to ensure you receive the majority of your invested money back if the adoption falls through
  • Services for adoptive parents like classes and setting up a professional home study ($1,500 to $4,000)
  • Birth parent expenses such as counseling ($1,000) and medical expenses not covered by insurance
  • Legal expenses ($4,000) like adoption finalization or termination of birth parent rights

Independent Adoption

In an independent adoption, the adoptive parents find a birth mother on their own, then use an adoption attorney's services to complete a legal adoption. While this course can cost significantly less than using an adoption agency for the entire process, fees vary by attorney and state. Many of the costs here will be similar to an agency adoption, with a few notable differences:

  • Average total cost is closer to $30,000
  • Attorney Fee is around $3,000 to $4,000
  • Legal expenses total over $10,000

Foster Care Adoptions

Infants placed in county, state, federal, or tribal foster care programs can become eligible for a foster care adoption if the birth parents' parental rights are terminated or they are unable to complete court-ordered steps in regaining custody of their child. In these cases, the foster parents who care for the infant could be eligible to adopt the baby. This type of adoption is often considered the least expensive form of adoption. Government agencies responsible for the care of these babies are typically free or cost less than $2,000 for foster parents as expenses are covered thanks to a series of laws and regulations.

Costs Specific to International Adoption

Average costs of international adoptions vary by country, but the overall average is between $20,000 and $50,000. Sometimes you can finalize the adoption in the U.S., which will increase the legal expenses.

Typical International Fees

U.S. parents adopting foreign-born babies should be aware of the specific state and federal regulations for such an adoption. When an adoption is completed abroad, it does not necessarily mean the adopted child has the right to enter the U.S.

No matter which country you're adopting from, some common expenses include:

  • Translation services - $30 to $100 per page for legal documents
  • Travel expenses
  • Visa medical examinations
  • Passport and Visa (IH-3, IH-4, IR-3 or IR-4 for the child) fees - $1,200 to $2,000
  • U.S. birth certificate
  • Infant gear, including car seat, stroller, bottles, diapers and clothes for traveling home - $1,000


As of 2015, most foreign adoptions were from China, with the median adoption agency fee of around $15,000. While exceptions can be made, generally only married, heterosexual couples or single females can adopt babies from China. Expenses in this country are:

  • Approved Adoption Service Provider fees - $10,000
  • CCCWA application and translation - $1,300
  • Donation to orphanage (customary) - $5,000 to $6,000
  • Travel - $5,000 to $6,500


Some countries, like Columbia, only allow families of Columbian heritage to adopt infants. Expected expenses may be:

  • Travel (expected to spend 3 to 5 weeks in the country) - $5,000 to $10,000
  • Approved Adoption Service Provider fee - $25,000
  • Psychological evaluations of both adoptive parents - $300 to $2,000

The Cost of a Priceless Gift

While adoption fees, expenses, and costs can seem daunting, the end result is a priceless child to love. Before choosing an adoption path, consider your finances and look for the option that best meets your resources.

Costs of Adopting a Baby